Professionally finished marquee linings

Anyone can put up marquee linings, indeed that’s one of our essential design points when making new linings. But there are some small touches that make a difference:

  • Keep them clean. Yes it’s obvious but there’s no point going any further down the list unless you’re working with clean linings. To keep them clean only put them up after the flooring has been laid to avoid them dragging in dirt.
  • Pull them tight where possible. Pleated linings can only be tensioned along the pleats but flat linings can be tensioned in all directions. Always start in the middle of a lining and pull any slackness in the material to the sides.
  • Keep pelmets and swags as horizontal as possible. The linings at the end of our marquees should go across horizontally, not go up and down. If you are using swags then keep them straight and pulled tightly as you velcro them on. If the roof is gathered in places just pull the swag tightly across any gathered part and velcro on.
  • Curtains add a really nice touch to any marquee, they’re not just for covering the legs they also look effective covering velcro joins in wall linings. Having them evenly around all 4 sides of a marquee looks very effective.

The biggest difference in the world of marquees is going from an unlined marquee to a lined one (with decent linings at least). The points above will just give a nice professional finish.

There are two of our DIY Marquees currently being sold on ebay that look in very good condition and might be a bargain:

Thanks for reading

Spencer

 

Example site visit: Wedding in a field part ii

The first thing to note is that marquees in a field are from from easy and far from straight forward. They’re easy to erect as there’s no constrictions and you can often drive to it but too much choice is often a head-ache.

Keeping everyone in one place is key, the easiest way to do this is to have large enough marquees to house everyone inside for a formal function or to create a courtyard type feel for an informal function. If you’re using an outside space for drinks or similar then you want to create a set area, this could be picket fencing (formal) or hay bales (informal) or outside seating collected together just outside the marquee.

My suggested solution:

It’s an informal function so I’ve used three marquees to create a horse-shoe arrangement to keep everyone in one place. The marquees would all be open to the courtyard so people can drift in and out of the marquees.

The hog-roast would be to one side of the outside furniture, it makes a good talking point and is like a magnet for some guests (mainly us blokes). Keeping it nearby (downwind of the marquee though so smoke doesn’t blow in!) keeps everyone together so you don’t end up with two parties.

Notice the large variance in number of expected guests, this is very common amongst informal functions. You just have to allow enough room and a variety of seating for most but not all people, that means the marquee won’t look empty if numbers are on the low side but can still cope with a higher number of guests.

Mixing up different size tables gives an informal atmosphere along with a few large open spaces and just chairs around the edge near the dance floor. The bar, buffet and music (generally a band rather than DJ in this set up)  are all central though people can sit away from the music but still be part of the party if they want to.

Other things to consider with marquees in a field:

  • Get the customer to cut the grass as short as possible as early as possible. Cutting it short just before the marquee is erected leaves spiky stubble which is difficult to get a good surface on using carpet or matting.
  • If the event is planned far enough in advance get the marquee footprint rolled as well as this makes the world of difference.
  • Parking is often in another part of the field, make sure the marquee is orientated to be attractive to people as they arrive (so they’re not clambering round from the back) and that there’s some lighting for them to find their cars afterwards.
  • Fields are generally a long distance from a house so generators are usually required (but can be set a long way back from the marquee so order plenty of cabling with it)

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Example site visit: Wedding in a field part i

Easy one this week, a wide open field:

requirements:

  • informal wedding for 120-200 guests in July
  • guests will be parking in the field
  • food will be supplied by hog roast and bbq’s throughout the day so there’s no formal sit down meal
  • disco in the evening

Easy right? My suggested proposal next week.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Example site visit: Dave & Jenny’s garden part ii

Before going any further clarification: The trees are too large to fit inside a marquee (thanks Chris). Small trees or flower beds are no barrier to erecting a marquee and can be excellent features but remember you lose that floorspace in the marquee.
I also forgot to mention what time of year the event was planned for, more on that below

My suggested solution:

A 6x12m marquee is probably around the right size, you could fit a 6x14m marquee in and they could fit everyone in to a 6x10m marquee but 6x12m seems about right.

You could rotate the marquee 90 degrees and run it down the garden instead of across, I’d discuss this with Dave & Jenny and give them the option of either way. If they wanted to have drinks on the lawn beforehand then they could use the left hand side and run the marquee down lengthwise. Otherwise I’d run it across the garden as you can see more of the marquee, can fit more windows in and it generally makes for a more inviting marquee.

If it was a winter marquee then I’d bring the marquee as close to the house as possible and consider using a walkway across the patio to connect the two. In the summer I’d set it as far back as the tree will allow to make it look more impressive for guests on arrival.

The internal layout is very informal, the middle dance floor area can be used for people standing initially but becomes the natural focus when the music starts. Having the bar & buffet in the same marquee as the dance floor keeps the party in one place and chairs around the edge give somewhere for people to sit down if they really want to. Fairy lights in the ceiling, black and white dance floors, illuminated bars are all possible accessories.

This is a very very popular layout for all different size marquees. As you use larger structures the dance floor and bar area become larger and more flexible – you can add sofas and/or poseur tables to create a real night club atmosphere.

That would be my suggested solution at least.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Example site visit: Dave & Jenny’s garden part i

It has been suggested that I should give examples of site visits to show what you should be thinking of when planning a marquee function. This sounds a good idea to me but I should stress – I’m not saying that my ideas are the best and only solution. I’ll state what I’d do but if you asked another marquee company or even someone else from our company they might come up with other ideas.

So in one blog post I’ll give the layout of a garden with measurements and a brief overview of their requirements. The following post I’ll look at what suggestions I’d offer.

Dave & Jenny’s garden:

The layout above is Dave & Jenny’s garden. The house (in red) is at the bottom with a patio (in grey) in front. There are some flower beds to the left and some trees/bushes towards the rear.

Everything in the marquee world is done in squares and rectangles so all we’re really interested in are the limiting factors – that tree halfway down the garden is going to limit what we can fit in so we need the measurements based around that tree, together with the maximum widths and lengths available.

Remember the 3 stages of site visits:

  • sit down with the potential customers and get an idea if what they’d like and especially what they dislike, what they’d like to avoid. Get an idea of guest numbers, whether it’s formal or informal and if they need a dance floor/bar/catering area
  • go out and measure the garden
  • go back inside and sit down to discuss their options (this is what I’ll cover in the next post)

Dave & Jenny’s requirements

After sitting down and discussing it with them we’ve gained the following information:

  • It’s Dave’s 40th birthday party
  • They are expecting 50-70 guests
  • It will be an evening function at the end of June
  • They want an informal atmosphere though there will be food and drink available
  • They’re going to have a 4 piece band playing
  • Guests will go round the side of the house (ie not through the house) to get to the marquee

That’s a typical amount of information you work with on a site visit, I’ll discuss my suggestions in 2 weeks (taking the kids to ‘sunny’ Wales next week)

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Keep your website updated

You may write a blog, you may write articles, you may post photos in albums. Depending on exactly how you present this information chances are each one is dated in some way. ‘this article was written on…’, ‘Sarah & Tim’s wedding from ….’ feedback received on… etc etc

This is great for your website, it keeps the site looking fresh and relevant whilst also pleasing the search engines with changing content.

The only problem arises when you get too busy to update the site. If you’ve got dated information on your website that hasn’t had a new entry for 6 months then you risk losing customers.

Think of it from a customers point of view, a site that had regular updates and then stopped abruptly looks like a company that might have ceased trading. Rather than risk looking silly by making an enquiry with you they’ll go to someone else down the road.

Two options: Commit to updating the site regularly come what may or failing that don’t date stamp anything.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Inflatable sofas

Here’s something of interest: http://www.sofair.co.uk/

Inflatable sofas, if they are as good as they look then it could be an interesting option for the hire industry.

Hiring out sofas can be a pain, they take up a lot of room in transport and storage so having a collapsible inflating option could be an excellent idea.

I should point out I haven’t seen these in the flesh, the photos are obvious photoshops so this is probably quite new and there’s no mention of prices on the website (which really annoys me).

But it could be an interesting idea, maybe one to find at The Showmans Show in October.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity

It’s very easy to fall in to the trap of thinking increased turnover is always a good thing. In business circles you often hear people talking of how much they’ve increased the size of their business and what their projected turnover is but turnover means very very little.

Allow me to illustrate this with 3 scenarios and then I’ll draw comparisons with the marquee industry afterwards:

Job 1: Jim runs a company in the service industry, he has a turnover of £100k, has very very low overheads as it’s only him and his salary is £90k

Job 2: Dave runs a medium sized company, it employs 10 people, it has a turnover of £1.5m and he’s the highest earner at £60k

Job 3: Ian runs an international company but the overheads are very high. Sales last year was £8m but costs were £8.8m

Jim, Dave & Ian go out for a meal. Ian will talk about flying all over the world, how his company has grown in the last couple of years (turnover has gone up you see) and how high his stress levels are (often seen as a badge of honour for some bizarre reason). Jim will sit there contently with probably the lowest stress levels and confident that it won’t be his card that bounces when the bill arrives.

So bringing this back to the marquee hire industry (that being the purpose of this blog after all) keep in mind that the larger the span of marquee the higher the costs -purchase price, running costs and storage.

If you’re running a healthy marquee hire business offering whatever size marquees you do then don’t assume offering larger marquees will add to your profit. They will certainly increase costs, stress levels and turnover but that doesn’t always convert to increased profits.

Please don’t interpret this as I am against increasing turnover per se, growth is good and increased turnover is good provided it is increasing your profit.

Similarly I am not for corner-cutting to increase profits.  Cutting corners can lead to disgruntled customers and therefore increased stress for very marginal increases in profits. Much better to do a consistently good job.

I believe being successful in any business is finding your personal balance of stress vs reward.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The best material for marquees

There are lots of different materials used to cover marquees, here are some pros and cons of each:

Canvas:

Pros: Essential for use on traditional marquees, thick and tough material, good resistance to tearing
Cons: Problem when wet, F/R issues

I don’t claim to be an expert on using canvas for marquees as whenever we tried sourcing canvas to make covers we had trouble finding any that was flame retardant. It’s been used for centuries all round the world so there’s no arguing with the benefits of it, it’s very strong durable material. The only problems arise when it becomes wet, it becomes much heavier to lift and could rot if left damp over a period of time.

PE

Pros: Cheap
Cons: Doesn’t last, creases easily, noisy in wind, F/R issues

PE is the entry level for marquee material, it is the same material used in tarpaulins and groundsheets. It’s very cheap, it will keep you waterproof but the material isn’t very tough so won’t last long. It’s also very difficult to get flame retardant PE material.

Poly/PVC

Pros: Cheap, more durable than PE
Cons: Not as durable as PVC

Polyester with a PVC coating makes a more durable material and so you are more likely to be able to re-use a Poly/PVC marquee than a PE one.

PVC

Pros: Durable
Cons: Can be difficult to clean, stretches

PVC fabric is far superior to PE and Poly/PVC, it is more durable and consequently your marquee will stay waterproof for longer. Without a laminate coating it can be difficult to clean PVC back to its original new appearance.

Ripstop PVC with laminate coating

Pros: Very durable and easy to clean, holds eyelets very well
Cons: Expensive to buy

When you see the professional large marquees 9-30m wide this is the type of material they use. Generally 500-700gsm fabric but I have seen some 800-900gsm fabric when a blackout layer is used in the middle (generally used in hotter European countries than ours). The material has a polyester (terylene) mesh core with every 10th thread larger to resist ripping. The laminate coating means companies can clean the fabric thoroughly so it appears as new but the laminate coating does make the fabric more expensive than standard PVC.

As a point of reference we use 500gsm (Commercial range) and 650gsm (Deluxe range) ripstop PVC with a laminate coating. We could make our marquees cheaper by using PE, Poly/PVC or standard PVC but the reason we’ve been in business for over 30 years is by supplying a quality product that won’t let people down. In our opinion laminate coated ripstop PVC is the best, that’s why we use it.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Why the middle of a recession is a good time to start your own business

There’s an excellent article on this written last year: why the middle of a recession is a good time to start your own business

Unfortunately the impressive business link service mentioned in the article has since been cut but otherwise the other points are still valid.

Spencer